What Makes a Good Guide for Hunting TV?
October 23, 2011
Guides. They can make or break a Petersen's Hunting TV hunt. I have nothing to do with booking the hunts, so guides are the wild card for me. What makes a good guide for hunting TV? This is something I've thought about a great deal over the thousands of hours I've spent following guides through deserts, forests, grasslands, savannas and jungles, over mountains and under brush and most importantly into plans that work and plans that fail.
There are guides I love and guides I loathe to the core of my being. If you've been on guided hunts, you probably wonder what kind of an a-hole hates guides. My perspective is very different than the paying hunter's for many reasons. The most obvious is the sheer number of guides I've worked with both in this and my previous position. I know what works and what fails and my employment is contingent on successfully taping hunts. An uncooperative guide is messing with my rice bowl.
The second reason is I'm generally not treated as well as a paying customer. This one cracks me up because a guide who would never be hostile to a paying customer who may tell a dozen of his buddies about his experience will treat me like shit despite the fact that my tale hits 86 million households across North America. Additionally, the typical client/guide dynamic consists of the client being very deferential toward the guide. Producing a high quality hunting show and endlessly deferring to a guide are mutually exclusive. I say all this to emphasize the points I make below. The guides I endorse are super guides.
In a perfect world a guide is a smoking hot female with a passion for gruff camera monkeys with limited social graces, but this never happens. So for the male guides I'm stuck with, I think it comes down to three main characteristics: Confidence, honesty and motivation.
What does confidence look like in the field? The guide is relaxed. He knows what his area holds and he knows how to access the animals. Day one and day five feel much the same because his strategies worked so many times in the past. Panicked guides don't listen. They rush and refuse my requests because they mistakenly believe that if there is an animal on the ground, the taping is a success. They rush everything. I wish I could post a list of these morons.
Honesty? Guides are like men in any other vocation, the honesty varies greatly. Mainly, I see dishonesty around what an area holds. This usually happens when the outfit has leftover inventory they are desperate to sell. Honest guides, who include mostly all I've worked with, usually fit just right in the same bracket as confident guides.
I look for the motivation in everyone I work with. As a camera monkey, the best scenario is this: The guide is the owner of the outfit and is motivated by the potential promotion the TV show and the magazine offer. He is looking toward the future growth of his operation. He's usually the old bull, has mad skills and doesn't like to mess around so we end up in a honey hole.
The follow photo gallery contains my favorite guides, outfitters and/or professional hunters in the world in the order of favoritism. You want a top guide for your show? Google 'em.